Every client that I meet has a different set of circumstances and goals.  From the initial consultation until the final stage of a client’s divorce, I am constantly focused on my client’s goals and how to achieve those goals efficiently and with the least amount of stress.  Anyone who has gone through divorce knows the tumult that comes with ending a relationship.  This is so especially if a divorce will involve the day-to-day parenting of young children and most recently – navigating a global pandemic.

Often times, people develop their conception of divorce based on either their previous experiences, their perceptions as a child of divorce, or as I previous mentioned in my blog post entitled “Three Mistakes To Avoid During Your Divorce”, the advice of their Aunt Gertrude’s best friend’s mother’s sister’s daughter’s divorce attorney in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Setting aside humor, after over a decade of matrimonial law experience, it is my firm belief that in order to best navigate your divorce, one must understand that they can customize their divorce and in doing so take control of what can often be a highly stressful and emotional time.

So without further ado, the options that are available to divorce clients are:

Collaborative Divorce Process:  Collaborative Divorce entails a series of “four-way” meetings, which will occur on a regular basis.  Everyone involved, including the attorneys, are committed to an “out of court” resolution.  This commitment includes the execution of what is often called a “no court” agreement that directs any attorney to withdraw from the case should it proceed to litigation.  Collaborative divorce requires a collaboratively trained attorney and less of a zealous advocate whose typical courtroom persona may not be suited well to settlement.  Collaborative Divorce also frequently utilizes neutral professionals, such as child therapists and forensic accountants.  These individuals are hired collectively by the parties and thus do not represent either side’s agenda.  If you value confidentiality and preserving relationships you may want to learn more about the Collaborative Divorce Process.

Divorce Mediation:   I previously blogged about mediation during the lock-down phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.  Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is a consensual, informal process that is designed to help individuals resolve disputes.  It is a process by which parties identify issues, explore creative solutions and negotiate the terms of an agreement.  In the age of COVID-19, mediation can offer a viable alternative to resolving your family law matter.  Mediation also offers parties control, creativity and the ability to continue relationships between co-parents.  Mediation can be attorney-assisted with each party obtaining counsel to guide them through the process and provide legal advice.  Alternatively, the parties can meet with a mediator to resolve disputes and then provide the written settlement agreement to individual counsel.  The necessity of having an attorney review a mediated settlement agreement is because a mediator (often times an attorney) does not give legal advice.  The role of the mediator is to facilitate and occasionally evaluate each party’s position (and goals) but not to give legal advice.  The mediator at all times must remain neutral.  Mediation can also involve experts such as forensic accountants, real estate appraisers, investment professionals and parenting and mental health experts.

Divorce Litigation:   Often times despite a party’s best efforts, they find themselves in litigation. Contentious divorces are the divorces that you find splashed all over the tabloids or in the movies.  These divorces typically involve certain key components: a high conflict personality of one or both parties, an overzealous attorney directing a doe-eyed litigant or where one party continually violates orders or judgments of the court with little to no regard for the consequences of their behavior.  If you find yourself headed toward the litigation highway, it is imperative that you have experienced counsel to navigate the court system and its intricacies.

Consulting: I am lucky to be mentored by a retired Supreme Court Justice who often times shares with me his experiences as a sitting Justice.  At the onset of a divorce or when a collaborative or mediation process fails, it may be necessary to consult with an attorney to re-evaluate and re-assess your goals and legal strategy.  Do not be afraid to consult with experienced attorneys, financial consultants, investment advisors, mental health professionals or parenting experts during the course of your divorce.  Well-informed and reasoned decision making is essential to moving forward from the emotional and financial consequences of divorce.

If you are interested in learning more about the collaborative process, mediation process, litigation or consulting and how to customize your divorce in order to help you resolve your family matter, you can reach me at mpullano@jaspanllp.com or (516) 393-8297. The material appearing in this blog is meant to provide general information only and is not a substitute for nor is it legal advice to you. Readers of this article should seek specific advice from legal counsel of their choice.

Marissa Pullano is a partner in Jaspan Schlesinger’s Matrimonial and Family Law practice group. She is a collaboratively trained attorney and a certified mediator. Marissa believes that all clients deserve significant attention as they navigate the court system. She strives to achieve resolutions that minimize conflict, but acts as a zealous advocate on behalf of her clients in the courtroom when litigation cannot be avoided.